150 lb competitive bike racer / start of 4th week / dizzy & dull


pneumadeux

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Me: 

  • 48 year old male competitive cyclist
  • 150 pounds, 5' 11"
  • Have ridden fast recreational or raced since I was 20
  • This is the start of my 4th week on Whole30
  • No crazy cravings, no cheating whatsoever

Although my road racing season is over, I've continued to cycle throughout the Whole30. Every single workout leaves me dizzy, thick feeling, mentally dull, even though I'm past 3 weeks in. 

 

Yesterday, I rode a 74-miler with our new team. It wasn't hot, nor particularly hilly. 

 

Breakfast was bizarre for this former toast with honey and tea guy: scrambled eggs, a sweet potato, some onions sauteed in ghee butter for flavor. 

 

I did use my long-time go-to bike nutrition for the ride, comprised of Hammer products, which I understand from many here is problematic: 

 

  • 24 oz bottle of water mixed with 3 scoops Hammer Sustained Energy, 1/2 scoop Hammer Heed, 1 Electrolyte Fizz tablet — the amounts are arrived at due to recommended weight and ride distance, and from having used their products a lot, pre-Whole30 with great success
  • Approximately 40 ozs of plain water from a second replenished bottle

After the ride, I experienced multiple episodes of out and out grayout, always after standing. One was so severe that it included darkened and blurred vision, the drama movie sound in my head, and nearly keeling over despite holding on to furniture. One other episode came close.

 

The meal immediately post-ride was:

  • 2 scoops Hammer Recoverite
  • 2 scoops Hammer Whey protein

Then I went home and immediately had: 

  • pulled pork (absoutely no sugars; made this in the crock-pot)
  • lean chicken
  • homemade salsa
  • guac
  • topped with three fried eggs
  • a pluot 

Then, for dinner: 

  • a charcoal grilled NY stip steak
  • roasted vegetables
  • kale, broccoli, apple, almond salad

The truth is, I've never experienced the "energy breakthrough" I've been told to expect by the 18th or so day. I've always been on the edge of what feels like a hypoglycemic buzz. But yesterdays post-ride was very bad, and an unwelcome surprise given the level of faithfulness. 

 

Today, at the office, I'm more mental fog than energy-less. Currently eating my lunch of: 

  • chili con carne with sliced avocado and tomato on top
  • steamed brocolli
  • more kale / apple / almond salad

I'm supposed to start the intensity of weight training soon, and the bike rides on the indoor trainer which kick up to very intense levels of anaerobic stress, especially the anaerobic intervals. My first time trial test is supposed to be this week, and I'm fearing another post-ride bonk. Don't wanna go there.

 

Appreciate the discussion.

 

Sam 

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YOU ARE NOT EATING ENOUGH CARBOHYDRATES!

 

What you're experience is your brain running out of glucose/glycogen. It is NOT fun. Don't do it.

 

Let me repeat: EAT MORE CARBOHYDRATES!

 

Honestly, for a high level endurance athletes, you should be eating at least a full sweet potato, or its equivalent in starchy veggies, a day (and MAYBE with every meal on training days).

 

Other quick things you can do post (or during) rides are bananas, applesauce, grapes.

 

As you mentioned, your recovery stuff is almost certainly non-compliant (the whey protein definitely is).  I understand the need for these during training seasons but I'd encourage you to either drop down to bare bones necessities with compliant sources, OR lay off them at all for the full 30 days and try to get what you need from real sources. It's definitely a transition period, but a number of people have done better without the supplements. One of our members, Fenderbender, is a strength athlete (with some MMA stuff in there too I believe), that's seen a bunch of benefits with eliminating most of his supps.

 

Anyway, you're almost done with your 30 days, so I'd encourage you to a) mainline some sweet potatoes, carrots, squash and bananas, B) drop the supplements for the rest of the time, c) Look at your training schedule and reconsider doing a squeaky clean W30 if it fits. You're definitely shorting yourself some benefits by not ditching the whey.

 

Good luck! Let us know if the carbs help!

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I know that the meal template says protein and fat before a workout, but I have found that for anaerobic efforts, like a hard training session, I need starchy carbs or I will fail during the session. If I have an FTP test on my bike, I usually eat some pre-cooked sweet potato 15-20 minutes before hopping on the trainer. I can do endurance-level work without taking in starchy carbs beforehand, but not high-end sprint work.

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Thank you, Renée and vkanders. 

I appreciate that you're mentioning the sprint work, because that's the race-level intensity that I'm most concerned about with this way of eating. 

As you are no doubt familiar, the traditional method is to simply keep the glucose tank topped up. Prior to 4 weeks ago, I'd start even the longest, hardest efforts with NO breakfast; I'd "eat" on the bike using 2 bottles — one with a very, very thick mixture of carbs and protein (about 80/20), and another of plain water just to insure that the frequent sips don't cause a tummy explosion. Then I'd go for between 60-100 miles, or a couple hours of balls-to-the-wall intensity. 

Now, I understand the concept of being a bonk-proof fat burner... but am unsure how to achieve the balance. The idea of something so "heavy" as sweet potato immediately prior to a workout makes me nauseous... And the notion of actually carrying "real food" while racing or training? How 1939 is that! 

This is going to take some doing...

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I don't really mean eat a sweet potato before you hop on the bike. I'm saying that even if you're a fat burner during the long rides, you're still dipping into your glycogen stores, particularly during the sprints, so you still need to make sure you're eating a lot of starchy carbs, throughout the day, not just around your workouts. 

 

I know some cyclists that have a mash of applesauce and sweet potatoes (and honey, but that's not W30 compliant), in the refillable goo capsules (no idea what they're called), and I know an ultra-marathoner that's found grapes to be hydrating and replenishing without messing with your stomach.

 

Again, start by just eating a bunch of sweet potatoes or other root veggies during the day and see if it helps your energy. I'm pretty confident it will :)

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A whole sweet potato would definitely be really heavy. I usually eat 1/4-1/3 of one if I'm doing a hard morning workout, and I don't have issues with it for hard bike trainer sessions. I even make sweet potato bites to take in during long bike rides - a mixture of sweet potato puree, spices, and coconut flour baked for 15-20 minutes. They go down just like a traditional sports nutrition bar, but are a lot tastier.

 

(Some Whole30 purists might call this SWYPO, but it's just a convenient way to carry around mid-ride fuel. I'll let the moderators chime in/shame me as appropriate).

 

As Renee said, managing your overall glycogen levels is important, but for morning workouts, you'll still be depleted. That's fine if you are doing an easy hour spin, not so much if you are doing VO2 max intervals.

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I know I'm not a bad ass sprinter, but I just completed RAIN (Ride Across Indiana), a 160 mile ride in the WORST headwind in recent memory (15 mph with gusts up to 24 mph gusts; yes, it was as delightful as it sounds) 3 weeks ago. While I was training (which included 4 days of cycling between 100-160 miles per week at my peak plus 2-3 days of CF--although I cut down on CF towards the end), I ate a large sweet potato or some roasted squash bites (from Everyday Paleo) per day plus some other carbs on days I started to feel "off". I ate breakfast, which consisted of eggs and bacon, about 2 hours before I rode and then a banana or a Larabar about 20 minutes before I got on my bike. During my ride I ate Larabars, nuts with salt, plantain chips (these saved me during RAIN), bananas and some baby food in squeeze able pouches (I liked the squash and sweet potato ones).

I wasn't doing a Whole 30 (I've done two previously) but I ate very Whole 30 like during my entire 7 months of training and completely paleo during my ride. You can do it, you just have to plan, plan, plan and you really really need to eat a lot of carbohydrates.

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I appreciate your thoughtful, detailed response, Robin. Thank you. 

Enduance vs. road race / crit efforts, is where I'm currently researching and studying. 

 

Sounds like, if I have a 10am start time for a 50 mile race, consisting of 5, 10-mile loops that will be bang-on from the start, the way I eat leading up to and through breakfast is the key. 

 

I need a better understanding of which so-called "starchy carbs" should be flooding my diet, and I need to know how realistic it is to complete the entire event with just water in my bottle. During the jostling heat of battle in the pack, there is no eating of banana chips, for example. During race season, these kinds of events happen nearly every weekend for about 3 months, and the training leading up to those times is every day, including weight room time. 

 

Recovery after the ride, is it's own other topic, and my experience after my recent 74-miler is what got this thread started. :) From the advice here, I didn't eat enough "starchy carbs" leading up to the event, used my traditional ride and post-ride fuels, and THEN had a full-on paleo recovery meal immediately after. 

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I appreciate your thoughtful, detailed response, Robin. Thank you. 

Enduance vs. road race / crit efforts, is where I'm currently researching and studying. 

 

Sounds like, if I have a 10am start time for a 50 mile race, consisting of 5, 10-mile loops that will be bang-on from the start, the way I eat leading up to and through breakfast is the key. 

 

I need a better understanding of which so-called "starchy carbs" should be flooding my diet, and I need to know how realistic it is to complete the entire event with just water in my bottle. During the jostling heat of battle in the pack, there is no eating of banana chips, for example. During race season, these kinds of events happen nearly every weekend for about 3 months, and the training leading up to those times is every day, including weight room time. 

 

Recovery after the ride, is it's own other topic, and my experience after my recent 74-miler is what got this thread started. :) From the advice here, I didn't eat enough "starchy carbs" leading up to the event, used my traditional ride and post-ride fuels, and THEN had a full-on paleo recovery meal immediately after. 

 

 

Have you thought of tying one of those feed bags around your neck with some sweet potatoes in it?  That way you wouldn't have to mess with pulling anything out of your jersey or bento box.  Maybe adding a salt lick, too?  Just kidding  :D  

 

You're right, eating plantain chips is not going to work during a crit.  I honestly don't know how to help you with that one.

 

I would try using Elete Electrolytes (they're even Whole30 approved!).  I used EE during RAIN and it really helped; I believe it has magnesium and sodium in it, as well as some other nutrients.  If you do a key word search on the Whole30 main page you'll find more details on it.

 

As far as post ride recovery, you are, again, correct.  You need to eat something immediately following your ride.  Have it in your car, heated (or chilled, depending on what it is) with a fork/spoon ready.  I prioritzed carbs, so I would eat my sweet potato first, drink water and then eat some deli meat.  Honestly, sometimes I didn't even any protein; I am not always all that hungry right after a really long workout.

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I have managed 3 hour karate sessions well this week by drinking coconut water, it replenishes electrolytes really well. I also ate a lot of bananas, dates, dried apricots and sweet potato. You could make fruit smoothies to drink on the ride, use a vacuum flask . I have dropped all my supps, whey , aminos and creatine . I don't know why so many active people limit carbohydrates, your body wants them and needs them. Just try and focus on compliant sources. To get the full benefit of the whole 30 it's best to ditch the supps. I have come to the conclusion that they are simply convenient and don't offer anything more than real food does. And real food has no artificial sweeteners in it, so it wins : ))

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